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Ritenour's 'Rhythm Sessions' Strikes a Beat with Jazz Fans

  • Doug Levine

Jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour (2010 file photo)

Jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour (2010 file photo)

Anyone whose nickname is “Captain Fingers” must really be good with his hands. Either that or there’s a brand new superhero battling ratings on Cartoon Network.

Guitarist Lee “Captain Fingers” Ritenour is considered by his most loyal fans as a modern day jazz superhero. He earned the nickname “Captain Fingers” during his early days as a session player, traveling from gig to gig with a collection of 20 guitars, including his signature Gibson L-5 and ES-335 models. His song “Captain Fingers” became the title of his third solo album.



Ritenour’s new release is called Rhythm Sessions, with emphasis on the word rhythm. Now 60, he has performed with some of the best and brightest rhythm sections in the world, and this project is no exception. On “The Village” he teams with fusion veterans George Duke and Stanley Clarke.

While Ritenour says he loves making albums, his biggest thrill comes from making albums with great musicians.

“This is a gift I don’t take for granted,” he writes in the liner notes. He says he had singer Kurt Elling in mind when he chose to record Nick Drake’s “River Man,” a song that features Dave Grusin, Nathan East and Will Kennedy.

The Rhythm Sessions guest list also includes jazz greats Chick Corea, Marcus Miller, Larry Goldings and Christian McBride. In addition, Lee’s 19-year-old son Wesley plays drums on one track.

Ritenour has always been known for supporting up-and-coming musicians. In 2010 he launched his International 6-String Theory Guitar Competition. Winners of this year’s inaugural rhythm section contest got to perform on the track “Punta Del Sol.” They include keyboardist Hans de Wild from Holland, drummer Selim Munir from Turkey, and, from the U.S., bassist Michael Feinberg and pianist Demetrius Nabors.
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